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Volkswagen Golf Plus

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Volkswagen Golf Plus
4/10

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Road Test

Volkswagen Golf Plus 2.0 TDI

Driven June 2009

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First launched back in 2005, the Golf Plus plugged the slender gap between the regular Golf and Touran and started playing the game in the Megane Scenic's sector a bit late. This is the ‘new' version, though you'd be hard-pressed to tell.

It's a very slightly changed Mk5 chassis underneath, and outside the differences are equally slight. It'd be a sharp observer or a total anorak who'd notice: "Ooh, a Mk6 Golf Plus! Look at the new grille and slightly redefined bumpers!" they'd say excitedly. And they'd be right: those are the only changes.

It's the same story inside - the interior is almost exactly the same as before, give or take some new materials and the odd knob or two.So why would you buy this Plus over a regular Golf? The answer is space. Or, according to VW's blurb, a ‘little bit more space'. With all the seats up, the Plus only has an extra 45 litres of bootspace over a normal Golf. You'll pay around a grand more for the privilege, so you'll need to be sure you really want that ‘little bit more space'.

The tall roof is the most obvious difference - the Plus is 11.3cm higher than the regular Golf. That means the seats can be raised about 75mm front and rear, which means your legs drop down straighter and it all feels quite a bit more spacious. It helps you lean in and buckle the kids' seatbelts, too, but it looks slightly odd and moves the centre of gravity higher, increasing body roll through corners. And when's the last time you were pootling along thinking ‘hmm, if only my roof was 11.3cm higher, life would be so much better'?

To be fair, you also get airline-style tables that flip out from the back of the front seats, giving toddlers a place to scribble. And the rear seats recline and slide back and forth, so children can kick back and put their feet up, or be squidged towards the front seats to make room for a slobbery Labrador in the boot.

All of that is useful, but it comes at a price and it doesn't make the Plus sufficiently different from the standard Golf (one of our favourite cars). Only eight per cent of all Golfs sold in the UK will be Pluses, which says a lot - there's not a lot wrong with the ‘low' Golf.

And there's so much else out there that does the job, too. The Citroen C3, Kia Soul and Toyota Urban Cruiser have moved the game on with their refreshing funkiness and creative use of space, and will no doubt start to nibble at Plus sales.

It might be slightly bigger, but Volkswagen has failed to make those extra inches count. For an excellent alternative, try the standard Golf. Or for a bigger one with two more seats, try a Touran.

Dan Read

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